Although Kant’s philosophy of peace arises from this same modern tradition of the state of nature, it promulgates a teaching about peace that is more positive or optimistic than the views briefly canvassed above. Kant claims that peace is a genuine end, or indeed the end of politics, because it is desired or willed by everyone. We all desire peace, and the fact that it is universally desired, or practically willed, gives it particular validity according to Kant’s conception of practical right.
This position has been recently recognized by scholars as a development that brings moral content to an increasingly procedural and empty political theory by understanding the practical impact of universal or general maxims. The central difficulty for Kant’s practical philosophy is the understanding of the relation of theory to practice, which must be taken up in more detail in what follows. The immediate task of this presentation is to examine what kind of principle, maxim, or ‘good’ is supposed to be implied by the idea of peace, and what practical implications are supposed to follow from this idea.
What is curious about Kant’s claim is his suggestion that peace is not only practically inevitable, but is also a moral imperative. Indeed, Kant thinks that peace would not be practically possible, let alone practically necessary, if this were not so. The moral basis of peace is, however, ambiguous, since it emerges from the practical argument about the possibility and desirability of an end to all wars. This paper aims to investigate this relation between the moral imperative and the practical possibility of ending all wars. It does so by arguing that this ambiguity between the practical and moral claims of Kant’s proposal is a deep problem that cannot resolve the fact that our liberal hatred of war leads us ineluctably into war. To take just one case, many liberal democratic theorists give credence to the observation, which has been made at least since Hume, that the peaceableness of liberal states towards one another seems to be accompanied by a hostility towards non-liberal states, which hostility is the cause of the emergence of ‘total war.’ This horrifying development seems to emerge from the notion that waging war for the sake of peace is moral. Kant rejects this implication just as he rejects the notion that peace is an ultimate end that justifies any means. However, Kant accepts this consequence on different grounds – namely, on the grounds that the practical prerequisite for lasting peace (i.e., the universal spread of republican society) requires the historically necessary continuance of war. I will argue that this may prove that the concept of peace in Kant is philosophically doubtful or worthless. The purpose of doing so is to show to what extent liberal democratic theories of peace depart from and improve upon traditional social contract models.
Kant’s notion of peace stands upon the claim that no one would “will the horrors of war on themselves.” This lack of will is recognized and established as a political premise in republican, or in our time democratic, societies. It is upon the basis of this practical truism that Kant claims that the authority of republican government rests, and hence so too does the authority of the international League of Nations that is composed of republican states. Kant by no means envisages a global state or even a global tribunal that mediates international disputes. Peace will only be possible according to him on the basis of a league of strictly sovereign states. His original and still quite novel idea is that the peaceableness of such states rests on their republican character alone.
Republicanism is the form of government that promotes international institutional security since it is founded on (1) freedom of all, (2) the dependence of everyone upon a single legislation, and (3) legal equality. When realized on the international stage – that is, when all states become republics – this foundation may result in an organization based on (1) the civil rights of individuals within a nation ius civitis, (2) international rights ius gentium, and (3) cosmopolitan right ius cosmopiticum. These rights are ‘natural’ (in Kant’s sense, which will be discussed shortly) and become important for Kant’s reformulation of the legal principle based on natural right. This is not to downplay the importance of the institutionalization of moral principles in law (which is essential) but it is to claim that whatever legal arrangements there are for international association get their validity from the self-promoting, communicative or universal accessibility of republican principles. In the best possible case we ought to be able to say that these principles are ‘moral’ ones. Inspection shows, however, that peace is not moral in the way that Kant usually regards moral matters.
Kant’s statements about the political conditions of peace consists of six preliminary precepts or articles for “perpetual peace” between states, and three “Definitive Articles” or principles of world order: (1) “the civil constitution of every state should be republican”; (2) “the law of nations shall be founded on a federation of free states”; and (3) “the law of world citizenship shall be limited to conditions of universal hospitality.”
The characteristic feature of republican peacefulness is its communicability or transferability, which is part and parcel of its universalizability, considered in terms no more suggestive than a general appeal. This character is supplemented by a non-enforceable set of rules or “conditions of universal hospitality.” According to this model, all that is required for the spread of republicanism and the eventual peaceableness of the world is for one nation to genuinely embody republican freedoms. From this, Kant claims, given a decent amount of time and the inevitable violence that humanity traditionally requires, republican nations should evolve everywhere. This result can be relied on because war is essentially guilty, or because the obvious evils of war lead directly to the practical imperative forbidding war.
The power of this theory lies in the claim that it is possible to properly construct a moral order whether or not citizens in society are themselves moral. We act correctly, Kant claims, whether or not we are really good, because our notion of “right conduct” is a rational result of our essentially antagonistic political lives (our “unsocial sociability”). Right, or the rule of law, is the inevitable consequence of the natural clash, and neutralization, of our instincts. Because this result is automatic, it may be depended upon not despite but because of our natural individual antagonism . Kant can thus claim that although individuals need not be moral, s ocieties themselves can be, which in turn results in the moral development of the human species.
We should notice here that of the conclusions that are derived from the ‘state of nature’ theory mentioned at the beginning of the paper, Kant’s criticism is directed against the third consequence: that is, against the claim that the moral and political duty of sovereign states is solely towards the preservation of its constituents (or its own self-preservation as a necessary condition for the security of its constituents). The general point is that society should be made more ‘moral’ by recognizing the real costs of war that are paid for by the citizenry. To get to this awareness, Kant appeals to self-interest, or to the political aim of using self-interest as a means to moral ends – namely, the respect of persons.
There are two kinds of argument supporting this position in Kant’s essay. The first is anti-monarchical. The second is pro-establishment. In the first argument, Kant argues that the simple self-interests of the State (in the narrow sense) will be overturned in favor of a fuller understanding of these interests once Republicanism is established simply because Republican States represent a wider understanding of human interests (specifically interests of wealth and prosperity) than monarchical models do. In the second argument, in keeping with the view that Republicanism genuinely supports human interests, Kant places the sovereignty of states at the center of his preliminary articles for “perpetual peace,” and argues for the superiority of public over private reason (which is the dictum that underpins his remonstration against revolution). The first argument is anti-establishment, the second is very much establishment. The latter claim is the basis of his unpopular principle that the peaceableness of the world can only be based on an agreement of states that are sovereign.
What is important here is the manner in which Kant supports his claim regarding the republican understanding of what our human interests are. Kant’s argument is not that the interests supported by republican states are more genuine or human, it is rather that they are more peaceful. Whether their being peaceful is the basis of their being universal, or whether their being universal is the basis of their being peaceful, is not a theoretical dilemma Kant thinks he needs to face. On the contrary, this is already decided by the practical constraints of law.
Kant’s position demands that political order is a condition for the possibility of humanity’s moral development in two senses. One the one hand, the state ensures the secure impartial condition for moral evaluation and cultivation (that is, it secures right in the form of law), and on the other, since it does not resolve the problem of our natural antagonism, political order also provides our motivation to be self-directed towards the moral or legal directives of the state. Since the alternative to moral improvement is the continuation of war, Kant could say that the motivation for moral improvement is one of life or death. The advantage of this resolution is that Kant does not need to rely on the moral development of individuals, nor even of the integrity of the states that compose them. States will move towards more just, legal and peaceful relations between other states because: “Nature herself…does it herself whether we be willing or not. Fata volentem ducunt, nolentem trahunt.” The compulsion or imperative to be peaceful comes, for Kant, not from a moral imperative, but from a practical one.
Let me summarize the argument so far. The question is to what extent peace is a natural complement to or outcome of republicanism. Firstly, Kant claims that this connection issues from republican principles or values, which are universalizable, or radically persuasive. This has something to do with what was called above “public reason,” which Kant characterizes as a natural medium of moral reason. The basic idea here is that Republican principles are moral because they are public, legally institutionalized, and politically transparent, which is the basis for liberal societies’ security regarding their reluctance to go to war with one another. Liberal states can believe in one another because they share the same transparency. Secondly, Kant argues for the universality of peace by an appeal to self-interest, which, however, broadens the understanding of the duty of states beyond mere self-preservation, and especially beyond the mere self-preservation of the state as the necessary condition for the self-preservation of its citizens. This is supposed to show that republican values are moral, but what is actually being proved here is that republican states are more peaceful. Finally, the move towards a globally workable system of republican states is one that is not just guaranteed by the self-evident nature of the moral universality of republican states, but is also granted by providence.
If, for the sake of argument, we substituted the idea of ‘history’ for ‘nature’ we would come close to Kant’s idea of providence. The special feature of providence seems to be its promotion of humanity. This includes the promotion of peace, which is the rational outcome of the development of republican societies.
It is easy to see why most defenders of Kant’s notion of perpetual peace down play the significance of this doubtful doctrine of providence, but it has an important purpose. For Kant, the thesis is not intended as a salubrious political myth, but as a solid, practical bridge over the considerable gap dividing our hope for world peace and the reality of sprawling hostilities. The genius of the doctrine is that it is not proved wrong by the empirical realities of war. On the contrary, war is a necessary part of the moral development of man and his eventual acceptance of peace. This does not, by the way, justify the military spread of republicanism, at least as far as Kant is concerned, but it does provide the mechanism for Kant’s claim that societies can develop morally. One necessary constituent of the morality of societies that is supposed to issue from this impulse of nature is the interdiction that governments refrain from exceeding the bounds of permissible legislation by undertaking to ensure citizen’s happiness. We will return to this important point at the end of this paper. Here it is enough to point out that this restraint marks an important step towards the reconciliation of political and moral concerns for Kant. Politics and morality can be reconciled because happiness is not the goal or end of either. The only moral good or end is the good will, and the only political end is freedom within the bounds of what is legally permissible. As previously noted, politics is thought of as a means to moral ends – specifically by defining the ‘negative’ freedoms that are necessary for moral action. This idea gets us to Kant’s notion that there is a determinable basis for the unity of theory and practice.
The basic insight for the agreement of moral and practical considerations is the idea that moral maxims define principles that must be acted upon (i.e. the morality of law is its efficiency in removing obstacles to such action, while the morality of the categorical imperative lies in its efficiency in defining and facilitating moral action). A maxim is not good unless it is good in practice. This emphasis on practice is reflected in recent analyses of what Kant means by the idea of a moral ‘end.’
For example, Christina Korsgaard argues that Kant, in contrast with certain twentieth century defenders of the ‘objective’ idea of moral value, allows of “ends” that are extrinsically, rather than intrinsically, valuable – or valuable because of the human interests that inform them. The excellence of Kant’s idea, she claims, is that it does not succumb to the error of conflating extrinsic goods with ‘instrumental’ values.
“Kantian theory” Korsgaard writes, “gives an account of the ‘objectivity’ of goodness that does not involve assigning some sort of property to all good things. Human beings bring goodness into the world. Objective goodness is not a mysterious ontological attribute, rather, the things that we desire can be good because of our desires and interests and loves and because of the physiological, psychological, economical, historical symbolic and other conditions under which we live.”
Thus Kant, Korsgaard maintains, is neither a relativist nor a hedonist, but is able to sustain a valid account of what makes the things we value valuable for us chiefly because we decide their value. We act or behave as though these values have values for us, and this alone is thought to make these values rational.
The key point of Korsgaard’s analysis is that value is something generated and exhibited by action. This is a derivation of the old idea that good actions provide their own benefit by reflecting back on our character. Here, the thought is that the goodness of actions (that is, their being right or wrong) is basic. Both ideas have utilitarian implications. The difference between the utilitarian and Kantian construction is that the former recognizes that good actions may be desired or looked for because of their benefits, but the later rejects the salience of this desire. Thus the former maintains that we can know our desires, and therefore know our goods, while Kant denies that we know our goods for the same reason that he denies that we know what makes us happy. It is only reasonable to follow our duty, according to Kant, because whether that really makes us happy or not, duty offers us the only chance of ‘possible’ – and this also means rational -happiness.
The importance of practical considerations in Kant’s conception of the good has traditionally led to a wide variety of perceived consequences. It leads, for example, to what Riley calls “ Hobbism at best, the Gestapo at worst,” or the idea that without “reason ordained objective ends…’public legal justice’ would be public and legal but not just.”  Kant seems to wish to avert just this danger by constructing a League of Nations, rather than an umbrella international judicial system. Law cannot replace our common moral rational knowledge – the consciousness of duty, or of what the simple heart and upright sense say is right – any more than moral philosophy can. The validity of right cannot be sought in the formal validity of a moral maxim (which are valid whether or not they are acted upon) nor in the practical simplicity of the demand that such maxims express (i.e. the mere fact that these principle can be acted upon). It comes, rather, from the outcome, set by moral science, of unifying these two factors so that the action is acted on because it is good to do so. An action’s ‘being good to do’ must also be a consequence of its being peaceful. Indeed, Kant writes, “this task of establishing a universal and lasting peace is not just a part of the theory of right within the limits of pure reason, but its entire ultimate purpose.”
We can easily see why this should be necessary. Take any moral imperative, such as the imperative not to lie. The ‘rightness’ of this maxim stands on two basic principles. The first is prudential – I ought not to lie because I would not like it if others lied to me, so I could not will that lying be sanctioned universally. The second has wider practical implications. The idea here is that if everyone lied then no one could be trusted, the basis of all our social agreements, the law, the authority of the state to enforce the law, all would be undermined. Relationships would be frayed, the fabric of society torn, and the war of all against all ensue. The point is that there is nothing logically inconsistent about the decision to violate a moral maxim and so to threaten the basis for society’s welfare. The decision not to do so is reasonable only if it is the case that peace is preferable to war. Kant does not try to argue that this is indeed the case. He does not think he needs to. The possibility of its being the case is identical to the possibility that theory and practice are practically co-efficacious. Peace is possible, in other words, only if Kant has succeeded in uniting these two ends in his own political philosophy. Now the question that seems naturally to arise is: what is the unity of theory and practice based in? This complicated matter can be understood obliquely by way of an analogy with the previously mentioned problem of happiness.
In modern thought h uman happiness is considered to be possible only because of our independence from the unpredictability of nature – “the cheerless gloom of chance” as Kant puts it. Unfortunately, this independence is bought at the cost of the recognition that our separation from nature is also the source of human unhappiness and conflict. Our freedom from nature is only possible because of humanity’s constant vigilance against nature through its labor, or through the development of science, technology and economics. Modern philosophers including Kant seek to resolve this difficulty by abandoning the idea that happiness is a goal or end of human life, and instead promote the modest goal of satisfaction or “contentment.” One consequence of this rejection of happiness is that it seems to remove all reason for supposing that man has an inherent nature at all. In the same way that we are no longer required to wonder about what humanities true ends are, nature too becomes essentially unknowable, and war ceases to be a viable kind of human activity. We can see the precise relation between these two ideas by noting again that the heart of the modern formulation of politics is the view that the state of nature is a state of war. From this it is a small step to the view that the modern notion of peace is subject to the same tension implied by the modern search for, and rejection of, happiness. This tension is a source of our modern ambivalence towards peace.
In short, modern political philosophy bases itself on the claim that society can provide a solution to the problem of man’s natural state because it is possible to artificially institute a state of peace among humans. The reason why it is prudent to enter a social contract is because society provides security. This guarantee involves the recognition that war between states is possible and must be prepared for, which in turn entails that peace becomes aligned with security. Kant attempts to alter this situation by driving the traditional state of nature or contract theories to the extreme in order to make the case that peace is necessary as a cure to the problem of man’s nature. “Man’s antagonistic nature,” Kant writes, “must be capable of solution,” and this is what guarantees the correctness of the rule of law, as well as the necessity of a practical orientation in philosophy. The problem is that the solution only works as a guarantee for peace if it is true that peace is really the basis for this relationship; that is, that the true state of things is peaceful. This, however, is just what is to be proved by the unity of science. If Kant’s point is that this cannot be proved in theory, but can only be demanded in practice, then the unity of theory and practice dissolves.
At the beginning of this paper I said that the notion of peace might be philosophically doubtful or worthless, and our earlier discussion of the circularity of peace is the main reason for this. We saw how society may be considered to be good if it is peaceful, but that its peacefulness is also something that is desired. It is only secure in so far as everyone desires it. Peacefulness is thus itself a matter of the will, or of the good will in Kant’s vocabulary. The trouble with this picture is that it is not obvious that the good will is actually peaceful. There is no doubt that “peace” – our belief and hope in this possibility – has enormous psychological and political importance, but this is not what is at issue. Our passion for peace has been proved to be a strong ingredient in the motive for war. The nut of Kant’s belief that peace is possible is his belief that our individual ideas of goodness and happiness will remain uncontested because of an agreement that we make on the basis of our knowledge that it is good to avoid war. Closer examination shows however, that this is not the only, and not a sufficient, basis for this agreement. Rather the agreement regarding the disadvantage of war stands on the claim that individual ideas of goodness and happiness are not politically functional. Thus, the practical conception of politics and of peace involves, as we noticed before, that we reject the idea that the aim of society is human happiness. This result in turn guarantees that the genuine ends of politics are conceived as being achievable because the ends that are sought are determined beforehand as goals that are practically possible.
The main advantage of this measure is that it becomes possible to claim that our individual ends may be chosen freely. When such ends are accompanied by such promises as peace, they become hard to relinquish. This is the basis of Kant’s claim that the good will is politically salient. It is the dearness of peace and individual freedom that is the reason why they are politically important and politically effective. There are two problems here that must suffice for our conclusion. The first is that because peace is a principle that is so fundamental to our practically oriented understanding of political theory, it escapes our philosophical compass, and carries no theoretical import. It is, as was suggested, theoretically useless. The other problem is that it also might be practically useless too. The wish for peace is not peace, nor does our hope for peace refute the Realist contention that there are some matters that cannot be solved peacefully. So long as this continues to be true, it is difficult to see how peace is necessarily more moral than conflict. Kant’s point is that this will no longer continue to be true once the political conditions for peaceful agreement are put in place, but this requires that states refrain from pursuing interests that cannot be achieved by peaceful means, which is hardly a solution if those interests involve matters of justice and survival.
 In opposition to the ‘form of sovereignty,’ which is either democratic, autocratic or aristocratic, the ‘form of government’ can be either republican or despotic. This distinction lies at the bottom of Kant’s criticism of democracy, which he claims is non-representational (since everyone in democracy wants to rule themselves) and despotic (“ Perpetual Peace,” in Kant: Political Writings , H.S. Reiss ed., H. B. Nisbet trans., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1993, p. 34; henceforth PP).
 PP 34
 “For Grotius, Puffendorf, Vattel and the others—miserable comforters all of them—are still always quoted cordially for the of an outbreak of war, although their philosophically or diplomatically composed codes has not, nor could have, the slightest force, since the States as such stand under no common legal constraint; and there is not an example of a State having been ever moved to desist from its purpose by arguments, although armed with testimonies of such important men.” (PP 35).
 “ By…the unsocial sociability of men I mean: their tendency to enter into society, conjoined, however, with an accompanying resistance which continually threatens to dissolve society” (PP 16).
 PP 39: “A multitude of rational beings all requiring laws in common for their own preservation, and yet secretly inclined to except himself from their sway, have to be put under order…and so organized that, in their public relations, their conduct will have the same result as if they had no such bad sentiments.” In this precise sense Kant’s idea of Right departs from Locke’s idea of our inalienable rights. For Locke, the chaotic reality of the state of nature is the reason why there had to be an objective standard for human peaceful relations within the state of nature itself. Nature is not itself war-like, but the state of war arises in nature because of our common tendency to regard our own judgment as sovereign, which leads to disagreement. “The law of nature,” Locke writes, “wills the peace and preservation of all mankind,” and it is from this principle that Locke derives the natural inalienability of our Rights (Locke 6).
 “All the culture and art that adorn humanity, and the fairest social order, are fruits of that unsociableness which is necessitated of itself to discipline itself and which thus constrains man.” PP 16
 Many scholars have tried to argue that Kant’s insistence that the legal arrangements of universal peace be based on the sovereignty of nations is misguided or insupportable, given the background of Kant’s general assumption about the reasons for entering society. The main problem is that universal sovereignty assumes non-liberal states the same kind of legal rights as liberal states, which is contrary to the ‘original contract-theory’ that Kant’s construction is based upon. Lutz-Bachman makes this point: “In his Doctrine of Right, Kant introduces the prohibition on wars of subjugation. In the second group, the wide conditions of peace, Kant introduces the prohibition formulated in the Second Preliminary Article on the acquisition of states by other states through inheritance exchange, purchase, or gift-giving; Kant forbids these practices…because they contradict his notion of the “idea of the original contract” and the doctrine of modern natural law that the state is a “moral person.” Lutz-Bachman”Kant’s Idea of Peace and the Philosophical Conception of a world Republic” in Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideal (MIT Press, Cambridge 1997).
 Riley “The Elements of Kant’s Practical Philosophy” in Kant and Political Philosophy: The Contemporary Legacy. P. 30
 This is Kant’s argument that war is caused by the unthinking whims of Princes, because the costs of war never fall upon them. This arrangement is what Republicanism would essentially make impossible. There is a very deep problem with this claim however, which runs parallel to the problem of this paper, but which I cannot discuss at length here. Kant’s claim simply dismisses the Realist contention that war is an institution by which binding political decisions can be made. On what grounds does he do so? On the grounds that peace is the only valid grounds for such decisions, because only upon these grounds can they be considered moral. This, however, seems to disregard all grounds and validity for the current existence of states and nations – i.e. of delineated national boarders. It seems that one prerequisite for the establishment of truly peaceful states would be the historical reversal of all boarder contestations. But how would such a reversal be determined and agreed upon? There is no peaceful way of dealing with this problem.
 PP 39
 “It is wonderful” he writes, “that moss can still grow in the cold wastes around the Arctic Ocean; the reindeer can scrape it out from beneath the snow, and can thus serve as nourishment or as a draft animal for the Ostiaks or Samoyeds.” “Nature…has taken care that human beings are able to live in all the areas where they are settled… she has driven them in all directions by means of war, so that they can inhabit even the most inhospitable regions…and she has compelled them even by the same means to enter into more or less legal relationships.” PP 109-110.
 At least in “Perpetual Peace,” Kant strongly rebukes all suggestion that any nation’s legal sovereignty could be legitimately threatened. In his Philosophy of Right, on the other hand, Kant does recognize the judicatory power of other states over ‘enemies of peace,’ that is …”h e whose publicly expressed will (whether in words or deeds) discloses a maim that, if made into a universal rule, would make any state of peace among nations impossible and would perpetuate the state of nature forever. Such is the violation of public treaties, which can be assured to be a matter of concern to all nations, whose freedom is thereby threatened – and who are therefore called upon to unite against such misconduct in order to take away the power to do it.” In Kant: Political Writings, p.174
 “The idea of an external Right…has nothing to do with the realization of Happiness as a purpose which all me naturally have, or with the prescription of the means of attaining it; and it is absolutely necessary that this End shall not be mixed up with the Laws of Rights as their motive”(“The Principles of Political Right Considered in Connection with the Relation of Theory to Practice in the Right of the State” (1793) in Principles of Politics. Ed. Trans. Hastie, B.D. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clarke 1891) p.21 (Hereafter TP).
 Korsgaard Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge: Cambridge university Press 1996) p.272
 Riley, Kant and Political Philosophy , p. 30
 Kant Rechtslehre, in Kant: Political Writings p.174
 Kant, “The Natural Principle of the Political Order Considered in Connection with the Idea of a Universal Cosmopolitical History” (1784) in Principles of Politics. Ed. Trans. Hastie, B.D. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clarke 1891) p.15 (Hereafter UHC). Or the “dismal rein of chance” in “Idea for Universal History with a Cosmopolitical Purpose,” in Kant: Political Writings. H.S. Reiss ed., H. B. Nisbet trans., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p.42 (Hereafter IUH).
 Locke, The Second Treaties of Government ed. T. Peardon. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997.V.27.17. Kant IUH 43.
 TP 21, and MM 61 & 62.
 “The state of peace among men living together is not the same as the state of nature, which is rather the state of war… Thus the state of peace must be formally instituted, for a suspension of hostilities is not in itself a guarantee of peace” PP 43.
 PP 39, Kant’s emphasis.
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Preferred citation: McKillop, Kirsten. 2009. The Philosopher’s Peace: Lasting or Final? Kant and Democratic Peace Theory. In Human Ends and the Ends of Politics, eds. M. Black and K. McKillop, Vienna: IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. 23.